Canada: 1,300 Syrians Promised Refuge; Only 10 Granted So Far

Administrative Bottleneck Strangles Refugee Processing

Canada promised the UN Refugee Agency last summer that it would allow more Syrian refugees into the country, in light of the increasingly dangerous civil war. Despite a quota of 1,300, however, no more than 10 have received permission to enter.

Immigration Minister Chris Alexander claims that the holdup is the result of the United Nations only just starting to identify candidates. However, the director of the Office for Refugees for the Catholic Archdiocese of Toronto, Martin Mark, says that the dozens of refugee files sitting on his desk trump that claim.

An attempt to centralize the refugee-approval process in Winnipeg during 2012 is the reason for the slowdown, says Mark. During the Iraq war, refugees were cleared in eight or nine months. “We expect the Syrians,” though, “in the best-case scenario, to take two to three years.”

Yakdan and Gamila Nissan, who fled Syria nearly 25 years ago, have been unsuccessful in their months-long battle to bring Gamila’s 60-year-old sister to Canada. The Nissans feel that Canada has forgotten about Syrians who need help more than ever.

Of the expected refugees, 1,100 will come via private sponsorship, while 200 of those in the most dire need will receive government assistance. Chris Alexander openly admits that despite Canada’s CAN$350 million in humanitarian aid to Syria, the refugee system is simply not moving fast enough to meet demand.

Source: CBC News.

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